In the closest Semi-Final matches anyone can remember, four of the world’s best women amateur golfers played their hearts out Thursday on Pinehurst No. 2, with only two advancing to the final round of the 116th North & South Amateur.

Each match was tied at the end of 18 holes of head-to-head match play, needing to go to extra holes in a presser-packed finish marked long putts and fabulous short game play.

It took Gabi Ruffels, from Victoria, Australia and playing for the University of Southern California, four extra holes to defeat Natalie Srinivasan, a Furham University up-and-coming star from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Their match was close all day, with not more than two holes separating them all day.

Ruffels feels right at home in Pinehurst, despite never visiting the area until this week.

She told the Media Relations Manager for the  Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, Alex Podlogar “The first thing I said when I saw No. 2 was, ‘Wow, this looks just like my home course.’”

In a wise move, Ruffels decided to take a local professional caddie, Brant Hunt, to help read the greens and provide the local course knowledge.

In the other match today, Stephanie Lau, who just last month finished in second place at the Ladies British Amateur, defeated another Australian, Becky Kay, on the first extra hole.

In match play, each golfer is given a point for any hole they win against their opponent and a half-point if the hole is tied. If the match is tied at the end of 18 holes, the players continue until there is a winner.

“The Championship’s finals will be played on Friday morning beginning at 7. Admittance to all matches is free to the public, which is encouraged to attend.” said Podlogar.

Feature photo: Gabi Ruffels, from Victoria, Australia and playing for USC, with her local caddie, Brant Hunt, has advanced to the final round of the 116th Women’s North and South Amateur in Pinehurst.

Article and photos by John Patota, Sandhills Sentinel Contributor.

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